1 This is the little house where much of my basket collection is stored.
2 I entered the basket house and found that it was in great disarray. There was only one thing to do.
3 I asked my housekeeper, Sanu Sherpa, to help me remove every single basket and place them on the lawn.
4 Many of these baskets I hadn't seen in years and they brought back fond memories.
5 Perhaps you recall this photo from the pages of my very first book, Entertaining, published in 1982? The beamed kitchen ceiling of my 1810 Turkey Hill farmhouse was lined with many of these same baskets.
6 Here we are holding traditional English garden baskets called trugs. They were handmade using bent wood and fastened with copper tacks. They are sturdy, functional, and beautiful.
7 These flat tray baskets were used frequently in my catering days. Behind them are oak buttocks baskets, so named for their shape. They are also called melon baskets, egg baskets, and gathering baskets. The tall one was used to hold firewood.
8 Throughout history, baskets had many important uses.
9 Human civilizations all around the world embraced the craft of basket weaving. But, because the natural materials used in weaving baskets naturally decompose, it's not clear how old the craft really is.
10 However, the oldest known baskets have been carbon dated to between 10,000 and 12,000 years old.
11 I am particularly fond of this basket, which was woven many years ago by Benjamin Higgens who ran The Basket Shop in Chesterfield, MA. Mr. Higgens was well-known for his beautiful, sturdy pounded ash baskets.
12 When I owned property in the Berkshires, I visited The Basket Shop many times and own several. Mr. Higgen's son-in-law, Milton Lafond, took over the family tradition but, I'm told that he sadly passed away last year, taking his craft with him.
13 A great picnic hamper
14 And another - this one with leather hinges. In my catering days, I created Ralph Lauren's corporate holiday gifts and one year, I used these hampers to hold all of the wonderful homemade cookies, candies, preserves, pates, etc. They were spectacular gifts!
15 This odd-shaped basket was used in water to catch fish.
16 After most of the baskets were removed from the little house, I was surprised to find ceramic planters I had totally forgotten about.
17 I had been looking for them for years!
18 This one is a beauty by master potter Guy Wolff.
19 Another gathering basket made of willow, I believe
20 It's never a good idea to clean a basket by soaking it in water. Soaking a basket can result in swelling and popping of the weave.
21 A very rare Japanese basket - A soft brush or feather duster is the best way to remove dust and debris from the weave.
22 If a deeper cleaning is needed, use a damp, soft cotton cloth and gently blot the basket weave, then let the basket dry completely.
23 Another buttocks basket with embellishments
24 This file basket is unique because it's woven from rolled up newsprint.
25 I also have a nice collection of flower arrangement baskets and I was happy to finally know where this cement bird bath has been.
26 This basket was used on wash days to carry clean, damp laundry outdoors to dry.
27 I ended up giving several baskets away to the farm crew. They were taken to the equipment barn for mulling over.
28 Sanu and Maria, another housekeeper, got busy and gave the dusty basket house a thorough cleaning.
29 There were packing blankets lining the floor and I had them removed.
30 The shelves were cleaned top and bottom.
31 Sanu even dusted the grooves of the wainscoting.
32 When it came time for washing, Sanu reached for the Martha Stewart Clean Wood Floor Cleaner.
33 This product is good for most wood surfaces.
34 She even washed under the eaves.
35 Next, the windows were tackled inside and out.
36 To rehang the baskets, I asked Pete to make me hooks out of a heavy gauge copper wire.
37 Even Carlos chipped in to help with this project.
38 Carlos hung those hooks from the rafters.
39 We were able to hang so many more baskets. Before, the baskets were strung on laundry lines tied to the rafters. To take one basket down, you had to cut the entire line, bringing down all the baskets attached to it. Not too smart a method!
40 Now, each basket has its own hook.
41 We were really making nice progress.
42 Baskets are now lined up neatly on the shelves with very little stacking.
43 This was a very good accomplishment and I feel really great about my organized little basket house.